Distracted driving has become an epidemic on U.S. roadways. Distracted drivers claim over 3,000 lives annually and cause injury to another 280,000 vehicle occupants according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA). Although many states have enacted laws that ban or restrict driver cell phone use, a much smaller number of states have more expansive laws aimed at forms of distracted driving that do not involve the use of electronic devices. If you are injured in a crash caused by a distracted driver or lose someone you love, an experienced distracted driving accident attorney can answer your questions and explain your legal options.
Approaches differ radically between states with the scope of restrictions ranging from no limits at all to a complete ban on the use of portable electronic devices while operating a motor vehicle. Even states that restrict cell phone use have disparate restrictions, such as banning texting by novice drivers or all motorists and requiring hands-free calling. Most states have no specific laws dealing with other types of distractions like reaching for objects, eating or drinking behind the wheel, reading, reaching for an object, or engaging in other activities that divert motorists from focusing their hands, mind, and eyes entirely on their driving.
Mississippi’s distracted driving law sets forth a hybrid approach to restricting the use of electronic devices behind the wheel. While drivers are prohibited from texting and emailing or viewing and/or posting to a social media network, motorists can use their cell phone to make hands-free calls, access navigation apps, and obtain traffic or weather alerts.
Although violations of Mississippi’s distracted driving law result in a fine of $100, the law’s effectiveness offers limited effectiveness for the same reasons as similar laws in other states. The risk of detection remains low because drivers are permitted to use their cell phone for certain purposes while operating a motor vehicle. When a low probability of detection is combined with the modest fine for a violation, motorists have little incentive to abstain from this dangerous driving behavior.
Despite the focus on discouraging distracted driving by the media, lawmakers, and public safety experts, crashes caused by inattentive motorists will continue without broader distracted driving laws. For example, multiple studies have revealed that hands-free calling does not significantly reduce the risk of a car accident when compared to handheld cell phone use. Further, laws that focus only on cell phone use ignore other driving distractions. If you or someone close to you has been the victim of a distracted driver, an experienced auto accident attorney can help you evaluate your claim and develop a compelling claim for compensation.
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